Annabelle Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Warner Home Video
Directed by John R. Leonetti
Written by Gary Dauberman
2014, Region A, 98 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on January 20th, 2014
Annabelle Wallis as Mia
Ward Horton as John
Alfre Woodard as Evelyn
Kerry O'Malley as Sharon Higgins
Brian Howe as Pete Higgins
Tony Amendola as Father Perez
Eric Ladin as Detective Clarkin
Mia and John seem to be living quite the suburban life. He is well on his way to becoming a doctor and she is content being the happy (and pregnant) homemaker. However, this all changes not long after John brings home a creepy doll, apparently one more in a collection of creepy dolls that Mia seems to like having on display. Soon after that worst gift ever from her beau, the two are attacked by their neighbors in some weird cult and/or drug-induced madness. There are people shot, there are people stabbed, and there is blood from an insane woman spilt into the eyes of Mia's not-so-beautiful doll. We all know where this is going because this never ends up well.
Since Kevin said it best in his review of Annabelle, I'm just going to paste his first sentence here, "Let's get this out of the way first: You will never see the creepy titular doll of Annabelle move of its own volition; this is not Child's Play." That's a very important thing to note, because if I didn't know going in, that's exactly what I would have expected; this demonic creature running down hallways, horsehair flowing behind her, ripping and tearing whatever flesh that got in her way. But you don't get that at all, instead you get something that's more along the lines of Insidious.
This should come as no surprise, though. This is the team that brought us Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2, and The Conjuring. But this time instead of directing, James Wan takes over the producer role and John Leonetti, the DP for those three films, steps into the directorial chair. The doll from hell made her first appearance in The Conjuring, and in my review of that film, after seeing that evil creature, I said that I desperately wanted to see a full movie based on that particular story. Well, my wish was clearly granted, but is it what I wanted? Kind of.
Don't get me wrong, Annabelle has some fantastic scenes. There are some goosebump-inducing scares in this film (at least two times I wanted to crawl inside my chair and cover my eyes like a child) and the film has these glorious moments of tension like nobody's business. Yet the problem is that Annabelle is very uneven and at times is very amateurish considering the talent involved.
For example, there is a character that shows up and adds absolutely nothing to the film except to have been introduced for one particular scene. To elaborate would to spoil it for you, but the sheer amount of laziness involved from a writing standpoint is rather astounding. There is simply no point for to this character being in this movie otherwise.
On the flipside, however, the relationship between Mia and John is a refreshing change from what you're used to seeing in a horror film. Strange shit is happening to Mia when no one is around, from doors closing to the TV acting up to the kitchen catching on fire. For most of the film, John believes and supports her instead of just brushing off her fears or acting as if she's crazy, something you see far too often in the genre. When she asks him at one point to get rid of the doll, he gets rid of the doll. When she asks to move out of the house that the cult members attacked her in, there's no argument, he gets another place to live. Sure, it happened to be convenient timing as he recently got a transfer to another part of the city, but at no point do you feel as if he is not supportive of her.
And that's what's most frustrating about Annabelle. For every bit of greatness that is found in the film, there is an equal amount of, "Why would you do that?" I want to recommend this to everyone and no one and it's an odd position to be in. This is one of those frustrating times when you desperately want to like a movie but instead are forced to put it in that "what could have been" pile and stare longingly at it when you walk by and sigh in sadness. Annabelle could have been an amazing movie filled with terror, but its script prevents it from rising above your average, run-of-the-mill horror film. There's some rewatch value here for some fans, but most will watch it once and forget it.
One final note, Kevin's statement I quoted above is not 100% accurate, and you should watch Annabelle at least once to see what I mean.
Video and Audio:
Annabelle's 1080p 2.40:1 presentation is exactly what you should be expecting from a newer release such as this. The picture is crisp and clean and, most importantly, there is no detail lost during the low-lit scenes.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack is equally enjoyable, with plenty of use of the surrounds for the ambient sounds. Dialogue is always clear and in balance with the effects and score.
English, English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles are offered.
- The Curse of Annabelle
- Bloody Tears of Possession
- Dolls of the Demon
- A Demonic Process
- Deleted Scenes
Of all the featurettes found here, The Curse of Annabelle is perhaps the most interesting. The cast and crew are interviewed and share a few stories of some of the unusual things that happened while filming the movie. Granted, it's getting harder to believe such tales after hearing them told time and time again ever since what? The Exorcist? But it's still fun to watch regardless.
Bloody Tales of Possession is a short five-minute piece that centers on the impressive one-shot scene in the beginning of the movie.
Dolls of the Demon is another short featurette (4 minutes), this one going into a little of the set design for Annabelle and, more specifically, the doll design.
The make-up effects are the highlight of A Demonic Process. This is another highlight of the features and I only wish it were longer as its brief five minutes as it as an incredible amount to offer and is woefully short.
There are eight deleted scenes running about 20 minutes and a few trailers that finish out the features.
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